Roos looks at six players who are defying time
With today's emphasis on fitness, conditioning and nutrition, plus advances in injury diagnosis and treatment, more players than ever are enjoying very long NHL careers. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that 35 players who suited up for an NHL team in 2012-13 had either already reached the 1000 regular season game milestone or did so during the campaign.
But we all know that even the best of players will eventually start to fade if they play long enough, often morphing from fantasy studs to duds in the process. The key for fantasy hockey GMs is sensing when a player's stats are about to head downhill, before it's already too late.
With that in mind, over the next two weeks I'll look at 12 skaters who are among active leaders in games played (and are both under contract for 2013-14 and still considered fantasy relevant – sorry Roman Hamrlik, Ryan Smyth, Adrian Aucoin, and Hall Gill) and divide them into two categories – starting this week with six "Defying Father Time Guys" whose numbers shouldn't decline much (if at all) in the very near future, and concluding next week with six "Last Legs Guys" whose stats are likely headed downhill, and fast.
I'll save my "Final Verdict" for next week's column, where I'll talk about overall criteria to use in assessing and valuing these kinds of players.
Defying Father Time Guys
Ray Whitney – Age: 41; Career Games Played (regular season + playoffs): 1364
Whitney is the oldest of the "Defying Father Time Guys" and has played the most career games by a good amount. But he's also arguably still the most productive, having scored a truly amazing 106 points in his last 114 regular season games.
Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that Whitney can keep up this pace well into his 40s. But there's also no reason to figure that he'll do any worse this season than he has in the recent past, especially given not only his style of play but also the fact it's the last year of his current deal and he'll want to do all he can to either go out in a blaze of glory or to play well enough to secure one last contract. Plus, it's not like he's in danger of losing his top six spot with Dallas, which has managed to stockpile a number of centers but doesn't have many other scoring wingers on its roster.
And if you're still on the fence about whether Whitney has another very good season or two in him, just go ahead and ask yourself – at this point would you bet against him succeeding, after he's beaten the odds time and time again throughout his career?